Elizabethan Religious Settlement

Elizabethan Religious Settlement

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The Elizabethan Religious Settlement was Elizabeth I
Elizabeth I of England
Elizabeth I was queen regnant of England and Ireland from 17 November 1558 until her death. Sometimes called The Virgin Queen, Gloriana, or Good Queen Bess, Elizabeth was the fifth and last monarch of the Tudor dynasty...

’s response to the religious divisions created over the reigns of Henry VIII
Henry VIII of England
Henry VIII was King of England from 21 April 1509 until his death. He was Lord, and later King, of Ireland, as well as continuing the nominal claim by the English monarchs to the Kingdom of France...

, Edward VI
Edward VI of England
Edward VI was the King of England and Ireland from 28 January 1547 until his death. He was crowned on 20 February at the age of nine. The son of Henry VIII and Jane Seymour, Edward was the third monarch of the Tudor dynasty and England's first monarch who was raised as a Protestant...

 and Mary I
Mary I of England
Mary I was queen regnant of England and Ireland from July 1553 until her death.She was the only surviving child born of the ill-fated marriage of Henry VIII and his first wife Catherine of Aragon. Her younger half-brother, Edward VI, succeeded Henry in 1547...

. This response, described as "The Revolution of 1559", was set out in two Acts of the Parliament of England
Parliament of England
The Parliament of England was the legislature of the Kingdom of England. In 1066, William of Normandy introduced a feudal system, by which he sought the advice of a council of tenants-in-chief and ecclesiastics before making laws...

. The Act of Supremacy of 1559
Act of Supremacy 1559
The Act of Supremacy 1558 was an Act of the Parliament of England, passed under the auspices of Queen Elizabeth I of England. It replaced the original Act of Supremacy 1534 issued by Elizabeth's father, Henry VIII, which arrogated ecclesiastical authority to the monarchy, and which had been...

 re-established the Church of England
Church of England
The Church of England is the officially established Christian church in England and the Mother Church of the worldwide Anglican Communion. The church considers itself within the tradition of Western Christianity and dates its formal establishment principally to the mission to England by St...

’s independence from Rome
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

, with Parliament conferring on Elizabeth the title Supreme Governor of the Church of England
Supreme Governor of the Church of England
The Supreme Governor of the Church of England is a title held by the British monarchs which signifies their titular leadership over the Church of England. Although the monarch's authority over the Church of England is not strong, the position is still very relevant to the church and is mostly...

, while the Act of Uniformity of 1559
Act of Uniformity 1559
The Act of Uniformity set the order of prayer to be used in the English Book of Common Prayer. Every man had to go to church once a week or be fined 12 pence , a considerable sum for the poor. By this Act Elizabeth I made it a legal obligation to go to church every Sunday...

 set out the form the English church would now take, including the establishment of the Book of Common Prayer
Book of Common Prayer
The Book of Common Prayer is the short title of a number of related prayer books used in the Anglican Communion, as well as by the Continuing Anglican, "Anglican realignment" and other Anglican churches. The original book, published in 1549 , in the reign of Edward VI, was a product of the English...

.

When Mary died in 1558, Elizabeth
Elizabeth I of England
Elizabeth I was queen regnant of England and Ireland from 17 November 1558 until her death. Sometimes called The Virgin Queen, Gloriana, or Good Queen Bess, Elizabeth was the fifth and last monarch of the Tudor dynasty...

 succeeded to the throne. One of the most important concerns during Elizabeth’s early reign was the question of which form the state religion would take. Communion with the Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

 had been reinstated under Mary using the instrument of Royal Supremacy. Elizabeth relied primarily on her chief advisors, Sir William Cecil
William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley
William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley , KG was an English statesman, the chief advisor of Queen Elizabeth I for most of her reign, twice Secretary of State and Lord High Treasurer from 1572...

, as her Secretary of State
Secretary of State (England)
In the Kingdom of England, the title of Secretary of State came into being near the end of the reign of Queen Elizabeth I , the usual title before that having been King's Clerk, King's Secretary, or Principal Secretary....

, and Sir Nicholas Bacon, as Lord Keeper of the Great Seal
Lord Keeper of the Great Seal
The Lord Keeper of the Great Seal of England, and later of Great Britain, was formerly an officer of the English Crown charged with physical custody of the Great Seal of England. This evolved into one of the Great Officers of State....

, for direction on the matter. Many historians believe that William Cecil himself wrote the Church Settlement because it was the 1551-2 version dusted down.

Parliament
Parliament of England
The Parliament of England was the legislature of the Kingdom of England. In 1066, William of Normandy introduced a feudal system, by which he sought the advice of a council of tenants-in-chief and ecclesiastics before making laws...

 was summoned in 1559 to consider a Reformation Bill and to recreate an independent Church of England. The drafted Reformation Bill defined the Communion in terms of Reformed Protestant theology, as opposed to the transubstantiation
Transubstantiation
In Roman Catholic theology, transubstantiation means the change, in the Eucharist, of the substance of wheat bread and grape wine into the substance of the Body and Blood, respectively, of Jesus, while all that is accessible to the senses remains as before.The Eastern Orthodox...

 of the Roman Catholic mass, included abuse of the Pope
Pope
The Pope is the Bishop of Rome, a position that makes him the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church . In the Catholic Church, the Pope is regarded as the successor of Saint Peter, the Apostle...

 in the litany
Litany
A litany, in Christian worship and some forms of Jewish worship, is a form of prayer used in services and processions, and consisting of a number of petitions...

, and ordered that ministers should not wear the surplice
Surplice
A surplice is a liturgical vestment of the Western Christian Church...

 or other Roman Catholic vestments. It allowed priests to marry, banned images from churches, and confirmed Elizabeth as Supreme Governor
Supreme Governor of the Church of England
The Supreme Governor of the Church of England is a title held by the British monarchs which signifies their titular leadership over the Church of England. Although the monarch's authority over the Church of England is not strong, the position is still very relevant to the church and is mostly...

 of the Church of England
Church of England
The Church of England is the officially established Christian church in England and the Mother Church of the worldwide Anglican Communion. The church considers itself within the tradition of Western Christianity and dates its formal establishment principally to the mission to England by St...

. The Bill
Bill (proposed law)
A bill is a proposed law under consideration by a legislature. A bill does not become law until it is passed by the legislature and, in most cases, approved by the executive. Once a bill has been enacted into law, it is called an act or a statute....

 met heavy resistance in the House of Lords
House of Lords
The House of Lords is the upper house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Like the House of Commons, it meets in the Palace of Westminster....

, as Roman Catholic bishop
Bishop
A bishop is an ordained or consecrated member of the Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox Churches, in the Assyrian Church of the East, in the Independent Catholic Churches, and in the...

s and lay peers opposed and voted against it. They reworked much of the Bill, changed the proposed liturgy to allow for belief in transubstantiation in the Communion, and refused to grant Elizabeth the title of Supreme Head of the Church. Parliament was prorogued over Easter, and when it resumed, the government entered two new bills into the Houses—the Act of Supremacy
Act of Supremacy 1559
The Act of Supremacy 1558 was an Act of the Parliament of England, passed under the auspices of Queen Elizabeth I of England. It replaced the original Act of Supremacy 1534 issued by Elizabeth's father, Henry VIII, which arrogated ecclesiastical authority to the monarchy, and which had been...

 and the Act of Uniformity
Act of Uniformity 1559
The Act of Uniformity set the order of prayer to be used in the English Book of Common Prayer. Every man had to go to church once a week or be fined 12 pence , a considerable sum for the poor. By this Act Elizabeth I made it a legal obligation to go to church every Sunday...

.

The Papal bull
Papal bull
A Papal bull is a particular type of letters patent or charter issued by a Pope of the Catholic Church. It is named after the bulla that was appended to the end in order to authenticate it....

 Regnans in Excelsis
Regnans in Excelsis
Regnans in Excelsis was a papal bull issued on 25 February 1570 by Pope Pius V declaring "Elizabeth, the pretended Queen of England and the servant of crime" to be a heretic and releasing all her subjects from any allegiance to her and excommunicating any that obeyed her orders.The bull, written in...

, issued on 25 February 1570 by Pope Pius V
Pope Pius V
Pope Saint Pius V , born Antonio Ghislieri , was Pope from 1566 to 1572 and is a saint of the Catholic Church. He is chiefly notable for his role in the Council of Trent, the Counter-Reformation, and the standardization of the Roman liturgy within the Latin Church...

, declared "Elizabeth, the pretended Queen of England and the servant of crime" to be a heretic
Heresy
Heresy is a controversial or novel change to a system of beliefs, especially a religion, that conflicts with established dogma. It is distinct from apostasy, which is the formal denunciation of one's religion, principles or cause, and blasphemy, which is irreverence toward religion...

, released all of her subjects from any allegiance to her, and excommunicated any who obeyed her orders. The bull, written in Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

, is named from its incipit
Incipit
Incipit is a Latin word meaning "it begins". The incipit of a text, such as a poem, song, or book, is the first few words of its opening line. In music, it can also refer to the opening notes of a composition. Before the development of titles, texts were often referred to by their incipits...

, the first three words of its text, which mean "ruling from on high" (a reference to God). Among the queen's alleged offenses, "She has removed the royal Council, composed of the nobility of England, and has filled it with obscure men, being heretics."

Act of Supremacy


Under Elizabeth, factionalism in the Council and conflicts at court greatly diminished. The Act of Supremacy 1558 revived ten Acts
Acts of Supremacy
The first Act of Supremacy was a piece of legislation that granted King Henry VIII of England Royal Supremacy, which means that he was declared the supreme head of the Church of England. It is still the legal authority of the Sovereign of the United Kingdom...

 of Henry VIII that Mary had repealed and confirmed Elizabeth as Supreme Governor of the Church of England, and passed without difficulty. Use of the term "Supreme Governor" instead of "Supreme Head" pacified many who were concerned about a female leader of the Church. Elizabeth's changes were more wholesale than those of her half-brother, Edward VI . All but one
Anthony Kitchin
Anthony Kitchin , also known as Anthony Dunstone, was a mid-16th century Abbot of Eynsham Abbey and Bishop of Llandaff in both the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of England....

 of the bishops lost their posts , and a hundred fellows of Oxford colleges were deprived. Many dignitaries resigned rather than take the oath, and the bishops who were removed from the ecclesiastical bench were replaced by appointees who agreed to the reforms.

On the question of images, Elizabeth's initial reaction was to allow crucifix
Crucifix
A crucifix is an independent image of Jesus on the cross with a representation of Jesus' body, referred to in English as the corpus , as distinct from a cross with no body....

es and candlesticks and the restoration of rood
Rood
A rood is a cross or crucifix, especially a large one in a church; a large sculpture or sometimes painting of the crucifixion of Jesus.Rood is an archaic word for pole, from Old English rōd "pole", specifically "cross", from Proto-Germanic *rodo, cognate to Old Saxon rōda, Old High German ruoda...

s, but some of the new bishops whom she had elevated protested. In 1560 Edmund Grindal
Edmund Grindal
Edmund Grindal was an English church leader who successively held the posts of Bishop of London, Archbishop of York and Archbishop of Canterbury during the reign of Elizabeth I of England.-Early life to the death of Edward VI:...

, one of the Marian exiles now made Bishop of London
Bishop of London
The Bishop of London is the ordinary of the Church of England Diocese of London in the Province of Canterbury.The diocese covers 458 km² of 17 boroughs of Greater London north of the River Thames and a small part of the County of Surrey...

, was allowed to enforce the demolition of rood lofts in London, and in 1561 the Queen herself ordered the demolition of all lofts, although she retained a cross and candlesticks in her own chapel. Thereafter, the determination to prevent any further restoration of "popery" was evidenced by the more thoroughgoing destruction of roods, vestments, stone altars, dooms, statues and other ornaments. The queen also appointed a new Privy Council
Privy council
A privy council is a body that advises the head of state of a nation, typically, but not always, in the context of a monarchic government. The word "privy" means "private" or "secret"; thus, a privy council was originally a committee of the monarch's closest advisors to give confidential advice on...

, removing many Roman Catholic counsellors by doing so.


Act of Uniformity


The Act of Uniformity 1558, which required the population to attend Sunday service in an Anglican church, at which a new version of the Book of Common Prayer
Book of Common Prayer
The Book of Common Prayer is the short title of a number of related prayer books used in the Anglican Communion, as well as by the Continuing Anglican, "Anglican realignment" and other Anglican churches. The original book, published in 1549 , in the reign of Edward VI, was a product of the English...

 was to be used, passed by only three votes. The Bill of Uniformity was more cautious than the initial Reformation Bill. It revoked the harsh laws proposed against Roman Catholics, it removed the abuse of the Pope from the litany and kept the wording that allowed for both a subjective and objective belief in the Real Presence in the Communion.

After Parliament was dismissed, Elizabeth, along with Cecil, drafted what are known as the Royal Injunctions, 1559. These were additions to the settlement and largely stressed some continuity with the Catholic past: ministers were ordered to wear the surplice; wafers, as opposed to ordinary baker's bread, were to be used as the bread at Communion. There had been opposition to the settlement in the shires, which for the most part were largely Roman Catholic, so the changes are often said to have been made in order to allow for acceptance of the Settlement, although MacCulloch sees it as "absurd to see these concessions as intended to mollify Catholic-minded clergy and laity" and only of help in conciliating possible Lutherans. Catholics had lost so much that these minor changes meant nothing to them. What succeeded more than anything else was the sheer length of Elizabeth's reign; while Mary had been able to impose her programme for a mere five years, Elizabeth had more than forty. Those who delayed, "looking for a new day" when restoration would again be commanded, were defeated by the passing of years.

"5 Elizabeth, c. 23, provides for giving the aid of the temporal power in execution of the Church's sentence of excommunication, which involved imprisonment for not more than six months."

Legacy


The settlement is often seen as a terminal point of the English Reformation
English Reformation
The English Reformation was the series of events in 16th-century England by which the Church of England broke away from the authority of the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church....

 and in the long run the foundation of a "via media" and the concept of Anglicanism
Anglicanism
Anglicanism is a tradition within Christianity comprising churches with historical connections to the Church of England or similar beliefs, worship and church structures. The word Anglican originates in ecclesia anglicana, a medieval Latin phrase dating to at least 1246 that means the English...

. At the time it was believed to have established a Protestant church. Although Elizabeth "cannot be credited with a prophetic latitudinarian policy which foresaw the rich diversity of Anglicanism", her preferences made it possible. To some it can be said to represent a compromise in wording and practice between the first Book of Common Prayer
Book of Common Prayer
The Book of Common Prayer is the short title of a number of related prayer books used in the Anglican Communion, as well as by the Continuing Anglican, "Anglican realignment" and other Anglican churches. The original book, published in 1549 , in the reign of Edward VI, was a product of the English...

 of Edward VI (1549) and the Second Prayer Book (1552). For example, when Thomas Cranmer
Thomas Cranmer
Thomas Cranmer was a leader of the English Reformation and Archbishop of Canterbury during the reigns of Henry VIII, Edward VI and, for a short time, Mary I. He helped build a favourable case for Henry's divorce from Catherine of Aragon which resulted in the separation of the English Church from...

 wrote the 1549 Prayer Book, it contained the words "The Body of our Lord Jesus Christ which was given for thee, preserve thy body and soul unto everlasting life." The 1552 edition, which was never implemented, replaces these words with "Take and eat this in remembrance that Christ died for thee, and feed on him in thy heart by faith, with thanksgiving." However, some liturgical scholars such as Gregory Dix, Ratcliff, and Couratin would say that both prayer books taught the same eucharistic doctrine, albeit more cautiously in the first book. The Act which authorised the second book spoke of it as explaining and making "fully perfect" the first book. Finally, the 1559 book, published under Matthew Parker
Matthew Parker
Matthew Parker was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1559 until his death in 1575. He was also an influential theologian and arguably the co-founder of Anglican theological thought....

 during the reign of Elizabeth, includes both phrases.
In Sir John Neale's "Puritan Choir
Puritan choir
The Puritan Choir was a theory advanced by historian Sir John Neale of an influential movement of radical English Protestants in the Elizabethan Parliament...

" thesis, it is illustrated how a small bloc of radical Protestant representatives struggled for a more aggressive reform and had a major influence on Elizabethan politics. Neale shows how a militant group of "Marian Exiles" or Protestants who had been forced abroad during Mary I's reign returned to pursue a staunchly Protestant reformation. However, this theory has been challenged by Christopher Haigh and others, and the prevailing view amongst historians today is that Elizabeth was compelled to accept a more Catholic settlement than she wanted by the Lords, rather than having Puritan reforms forced on her by Marian exiles in the Commons.

By the time of Elizabeth's death, there had emerged a new party, "perfectly hostile" to Puritans, but not adherent to Rome. The Anglicans, as they came to be called later in the century, preferred the revised Book of Common Prayer
Book of Common Prayer
The Book of Common Prayer is the short title of a number of related prayer books used in the Anglican Communion, as well as by the Continuing Anglican, "Anglican realignment" and other Anglican churches. The original book, published in 1549 , in the reign of Edward VI, was a product of the English...

 of 1559, from which had been removed some of the matters offensive to Catholics. A new dispute was between the Puritans, who wished to see an end of the prayer book and episcopacy and the Anglicans, the considerable body of people who looked kindly on the Elizabethan Settlement, who rejected "prophesyings", whose spirituality had been nourished by the Prayer Book and who preferred the governance of bishops. It was between these two groups that, after Elizabeth's death in 1603, a new, more savage episode of the English Reformation was in the process of gestation.

Road to the Civil War


During the reigns of the Stuart kings, James I of England
James I of England
James VI and I was King of Scots as James VI from 24 July 1567 and King of England and Ireland as James I from the union of the English and Scottish crowns on 24 March 1603...

 and Charles I
Charles I of England
Charles I was King of England, King of Scotland, and King of Ireland from 27 March 1625 until his execution in 1649. Charles engaged in a struggle for power with the Parliament of England, attempting to obtain royal revenue whilst Parliament sought to curb his Royal prerogative which Charles...

, the battle lines were to become more defined, leading ultimately to the English Civil War
English Civil War
The English Civil War was a series of armed conflicts and political machinations between Parliamentarians and Royalists...

, the first on English soil to engulf parts of the civilian population. The war was only partly about religion, but the abolition of prayer book and episcopacy by a Puritan Parliament was an element in the causes of the conflict. As Diarmaid MacCulloch
Diarmaid MacCulloch
Diarmaid Ninian John MacCulloch FBA, FSA, FR Hist S is Professor of the History of the Church at the University of Oxford and Fellow of St Cross College, Oxford...

 has noted, the legacy of these tumultuous events can be recognised, throughout the Commonwealth
Commonwealth of England
The Commonwealth of England was the republic which ruled first England, and then Ireland and Scotland from 1649 to 1660. Between 1653–1659 it was known as the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland...

 (1649–1660) and the Restoration which followed it and beyond. Anglicans were to become the core of the restored Church of England, but at the price of further division. At the Restoration in 1660 Anglicans were to be but part of the religious scene.

See also


  • Oath of Supremacy
    Oath of Supremacy
    The Oath of Supremacy, originally imposed by King Henry VIII of England through the Act of Supremacy 1534, but repealed by his daughter, Queen Mary I of England and reinstated under Mary's sister, Queen Elizabeth I of England under the Act of Supremacy 1559, provided for any person taking public or...

  • Religion in the United Kingdom
    Religion in the United Kingdom
    Religion in the United Kingdom and the states that pre-dated the UK, was dominated by forms of Christianity for over 1,400 years. Although a majority of citizens still identify with Christianity in many surveys, regular church attendance has fallen dramatically since the middle of the 20th century,...

  • Vestments controversy
    Vestments controversy
    The vestments controversy arose in the English Reformation, ostensibly concerning vestments, but more fundamentally concerned with English Protestant identity, doctrine, and various church practices...

  • Peace of Augsburg 1555
    Peace of Augsburg
    The Peace of Augsburg, also called the Augsburg Settlement, was a treaty between Charles V and the forces of the Schmalkaldic League, an alliance of Lutheran princes, on September 25, 1555, at the imperial city of Augsburg, now in present-day Bavaria, Germany.It officially ended the religious...

  • A View of Popish Abuses yet remaining in the English Church
    A View of Popish Abuses yet remaining in the English Church
    A View of Popish Abuses was written by John Field in 1572, criticising the church services, priests and clergy of Elizabethan England, particularly the Elizabethan Religious Settlement. A Puritan clergyman, Field desired to change the Act of Uniformity 1558 in order to remove aspects of Roman...


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